A man died in the English Channel while trying to reach the United Kingdom following the sinking of a boat.
Search and rescue teams were called on Thursday morning after a ship carrying dozens of people ran into trouble about 13 nautical miles off Dunkirk.
A cargo ship alerted French authorities around 10 a.m. that a boat of around 40 migrants was in distress, adding that some of them were in the water. A Belgian Air Force helicopter later confirmed that the dinghy was sinking.
A passenger was found unconscious by the freighter’s lifeboat after suffering cardio-respiratory arrest.
He was then transferred to the Flamant, a French patrol boat, before being airlifted to Calais hospital, where he later died in hospital, according to the Dunkirk prosecutor’s office. AFP reported.
Some passengers were brought to safety on the same Belgian Air Force helicopter, while others were helped by nearby fishing boats.
It comes the day after 108 migrants were rescued as they attempted to cross from France to England in four separate dinghies. One of them was taken to Dunkirk hospital for treatment.
Sarah Teather, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service, said: “This is terrible news. We know very little about the man who lost his life, but we do know that he was someone’s son, brother, father, friend or neighbor. We pray for all who loved them and who will mourn for them.
“The desperation of those undertaking this perilous journey is an indictment of our failure to provide safe haven to those fleeing for their lives. This terrible tragedy is another horrifying reminder that the government has no intention of creating a fair and person-centred asylum system.
“The government’s new proposals will only force more people into increasingly perilous situations like these.”
Steve Valdez-Symonds, director of refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International UK, said news of the incident was “deeply distressing but tragically comes as no surprise”, adding that the Home Office must take it as “an urgent wake-up call”.
“Priti Patel must fundamentally change government policy and ensure this does not happen again,” he added.
More than 10,000 people have made the dangerous journey through the world’s busiest shipping lane so far in 2021, far exceeding the 8,410 people who made it last year. On July 19, 430 asylum seekers reached the Kent coast, more than any previous day.
Many people lost their lives while traveling by boat from France to England to seek asylum. This includes Rasoul Iran-Nezhad and his wife Shiva Mohammad Panahi, who died along with their three children when their dinghy capsized in the English Channel on October 27, 2020.
Some asylum seekers are believed to have crossed into France on Thursday, with Kent Police confirming their officers were called ‘following a report of suspected migrants in Ramsgate shortly around 11.30am’.